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  • Writer's pictureAlicia Kozak

Pennsylvania bill, Alicia's Law, targets online child predators

by: WTAJ Staff

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) – Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced a new law to help protect children from internet predators.

Alicia’s Law, which would fund the prosecution of technology-facilitated child sex exploitation and internet crimes against children, was announced today at the capitol.

The law was named after Alicia Kozak, who was 13 years old when she was abducted from her Pittsburgh home by an internet predator in 2002. The victim was chained and held captive in the perpetrator’s dungeon in Virginia, where he livestreamed the abuse.

Kozak was later rescued after an anonymous tip to the FBI. Since her rescue, she has advocated for internet safety and worked with policymakers to end predatory crime.

“As a survivor of abduction and exploitation, I know firsthand the critical importance of having dedicated resources to combat these heinous crimes,” Kozak said in a statement. “Every child deserves to grow up safe from harm, and each day without this law is a day too many in which children remain vulnerable. Passing Alicia’s Law is a vital step in our commitment to protect our children and ensure justice for those who have suffered.”

The bill was introduced by Sen. Devlin Robinson (R-Allegheny) and Reps. Jessica Benham (D-Allegheny) and Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny).

“Since the horrendous events Alicia endured, internet crimes against children have exploded partially due to the proliferation of social media apps and smartphone usage,” Rep. Ortitay said. “As the father of a preschool daughter, we need to send a message to perpetrators that they cannot hide online. We will find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”

If passed, House Bill 2199 and Senate Bill 1233 would create a process to establish state and local task forces across the Commonwealth to fight internet crimes against children, according to a press release.

Pennsylvania has only one of the 61 task forces nationwide that receive funding, training, and technical assistance to protect children online.

“In my 16 years as an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) investigator, I would have never imagined that it could get worse,” Det. Sgt. Chaz Balogh, Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, said in a statement. “Well, it has. CyberTips have tripled since COVID, which has created a backlog of cases. Law enforcement is in desperate need of funding to increase our resources and help the ICAC Task Force to further our mission.”

Alicia’s Law already is in effect in 12 states. The bills have been referred to the respective judiciary committees.


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